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ORIGIN AND ATMS OF THE FRANCIS W. PARKER 

SCHOOL 



The origins of the educational trend of which the Francis W. 
Parker School is a part are so various that one cannot appropriate 
from among them those that belong to this School. The quality 
that, perhaps more than any other, determines the kinship of the 
Parker School is its holding its educational principles as the basis 
qf its existence. That quality is a privilege of educational in- 
heritance. 

Every one who has ever brought forth a thought how to better 
the education of the race is really one of our forbears, for that 
thought is our life blood. 

Our immediate ancestor, who is truly responsible for our ex- 
istence, is the educator for whom the School is named — Francis 
W. Parker. He caught the inspiration of real education and he 
brought that living force, in bringing his life work, to Chicago. 

Then, out of a sense of need for Chicago and with wide co- 
operation, came other efforts that furthered his — and from those 
efforts evolved two institutions — the School of Education and the 
Francis W. Parker School. 

It is safe to say that the moving power towards the establish- 
ment of this School was the belief that the current general process 
in the education of our youth contains much waste of the inner 
human values which we sum up in the word character — that it 
squanders much of the best for the sake of the attainment of the 
less good — that the prime aim of a real education must be to con- 
serve and develop these finer values — that no good purpose can be 
conserved by their neglect and disintegration — and that the usual 
educational institution is so hampered by the weight of ignorant 
demand and blind conservatism that is laid upon it by a dominat- 
ing public that where it would, it seldom can be free to take such 
steps as might even seem very sure ones towards a better edu- 
cation. 

In this ground of the original need of starting this School was 
found the prime rock of its foundation — freedom to carry out such 
educational policies as should, in its judgment, further a truer 
education. 

5 



6 Francis W. Parker School 

Based, then, upon freedom of action in shaping its courses, 
the Francis W. Parker School has reared its educational super- 
structure with certain essential features which determine its form 
— the principles helow its performance. These are built with the 
bricks and the mortar, the line and the trowel of constant, per- 
sistent, thorough work, which alone can bring ideals into a living 
actuality. 

The shape and proportions and character of this educational 
structure are best portrayed by dwelling upon some of the archi- 
tectural features which determine its personality as a creation. 

In its plan, the growing child is taken as its charge in his 
triple nature — body, mind and spirit —and the principle of the 
School maintains that none of these integral parts of his life may 
be injured or neglected. 

In its triple responsibility, it is impossible to say which part 
of life the School holds as most essential. 

In its ideal, the body must be held to be the support of the 
whole of life and the first necessity is to foster and create an 
ample physical foundation. To this end, the arrangement of the 
school working day is studied to adjust the various kinds of ac- 
tivities to the right period of the day and the right relation to other 
activities in respect to mental and physical fatigue. To this end, the 
largest possible amount of definite physical training is allotted to 
the pupils — and to this end, provision is made for out-door play 
space and for out-door play periods for all sections of the School. 

In the School's ideal, the mind must receive, during the years 
of formation of habit and of power, the training that will fit it to 
grasp problems in their entirety and essence, to reach conclusions 
with vigor and clearness, and to attempt solutions with determi- 
nation and perseverance. And towards the up-building of such 
power, all of the mental training of the School is daily and hourly 
directed. 

In the School's ideal, all of this power would be but sounding 
brass and tinkling cymbal, if the spirit governing it looked not 
towards the light. So it is sought, that every influence of every 
part of the School work shall stimulate the child's growth spirit- 
ually — and if any part of it led his spirit downward, instead of 
upward, it would be cast out as a failure in the one region that 
must be held sacred — which no influence must endanger — his 
spiritual growth. 



Year Book 7 

In this edifice, which calls itself a school, but more rightly 
might name itself a life, there are two great towers that stand like 
the towers of a cathedral confronting him who enters in search of 
what truth he may find. These dominate his consciousness of the 
whole — forming the keynotes around which he groups all of his 
impressions as the work itself verily groups itself around them. 
They are : the development of the right attitude of the individual 
to self, as related to others; and the development of the individual's 
initiative in all of his own processes. 

The School holds that the motive of the individual's activities 
is a dominating factor of importance to his activities — as vital in 
importance as is breath to life ; and that the motive of work must 
not be the advancement of self as against another, nor yet for the 
benefit of self alone, but must be for the furtherance of one's own 
powers and possibilities as a factor for all. 

To make this aim an actuality, competition is ruled out as a 
force in the school work, personal aggrandizement is done away 
with in every form and in its place is brought in the social motive 
as an ever present, powerful, active force, inspiring and produc- 
ing in all the pupils the best that in them lies. 

The School holds that nothing is done unless the mind within 
does it. Processes plastered on by another's activity, though they 
may adhere under the pressure for a time, do not affect the growth 
of the mind but may be rather a waste, both of time and power, 
inasmuch as they may lead the mind further along the path of in- 
activity and inane acceptance of another's work to take the place 
of one's own and thus become steps which must be retraced before 
one's own work may be done. In the field of intellectual work, 
this path is a subtle one to find for the pupil, for each cannot, with 
use, reconstruct wholly all the steps of advanced civilized thought 
and do over all of the world's discovery of processes. It is the art 
of the teacher so to lead the way that civilization's contribution 
to each individual may be appropriated by a process that is his 
own and goes to the making of a real self, instead of the creation 
of a parrot of what has gone before — a process that is inner and 
consists of mental feeding, assimilation and growth, instead of a 
process that consists of the putting on of external layers — a 
process that produces thought power, not merely the power to re- 
produce others' thoughts. 



8 Francis W. Parker School 

In the still more important field of the acquisition of self- 
control, the same principle holds. No discipline produces growth 
which only restrains by any external force, whether that is of 
physical control or of fear of external happenings. 

Growth being the prime result aimed for, therefore, all rules 
and all disciplinary measures for the disregard of them have as 
much relation to the pupils' own judgment as the essential regu- 
lating of the school life will allow — and it is not too much to say 
that the direct relation to their judgment is held at all points. 

These two principles of the contribution, rather than the ag- 
grandizement of self, and of the initiative essential to all real 
work, might, combined, be termed the right selfhood: self, not 
dominating as a goal for endeavor; self, choosing, directing and 
maintaining endeavor at all points. The true and inner — as 
against the artificial and unreal — accomplishment of this great pur- 
pose for every individual is the fundamental aim of the work of 
this School. 

Passing in under the two lofty spires, one finds distinctive 
features within. 

Immediately one is confronted, as if with an altar to man's 
upward progress through work, with the belief that the hand of 
man is the immediate upholder of the brain — that they are so 
close in co-operation as to be almost in a union — that in their edu- 
cation, the action and reaction is so immediate and constant that 
the benefit of one is the benefit of the other. In the early years, it 
is the hand that contributes most to the brain. Later, the rela- 
tion is reversed and the developed brain power contributes con- 
stantly to the ability of the work of the hand. The belief of the 
School is that the two should be co-ordinated in training. All 
through the school years, hand work is brought into close connec- 
tion with intellectual work wherever possible, to reinforce and 
vivify it and to give the intellectual work of every pupil direct re- 
lation to his own constructive powers. 

Another distinctive feature — as of a richness of color and de- 
tail — is the belief that every growing mind may, with the right 
principles of teaching, be brought into living touch with the riches 
of history and of nature, in such contact that the individual may 
enter into sbme parts of the kingdom of the world and possess them 
as his own. And, also, the belief that such possession of the world 



Year Book 9 

may be the avenue for the achievement of the technique of read- 
ing and writing — and, indeed, that all of the processes to be 
mastered for technical skill may be allied with the whole of school 
life instead of being left as segregated, unrelated spots of half- 
awake activity which are never quite joined to the personality of a 
pupil's work. 

Thus we see the daily course of the daily round of school, in- 
stead of being set apart as a time given over wholly to a routine 
preparation for some other sphere of living, is itself an opportunity 
for living. 

From the kindergarten upward, we see realms of nature taken 
out of the region of the book and made territories of discovery 
and of practical application by the. doing of processes and the 
grappling with the problems of the human mastery of animate and 
inanimate nature. We hear pupils giving us, in rare quality, music 
of the masters and interpreting to us, in fine form, thoughts of all 
the ages, in reading and in drama. We see periods in history made 
real by being associated with work in science and with handwork, 
with literature and with dramatic work — we see pupils inhabiting 
Greece and reproducing in story and in play its spirit of art — we 
see pupils building anew their own city — we see pupils traveling 
with the great explorers over the surface of the earth — and, as 
they come nearer to their own citizenship, we see them construct- 
ing civics of their own making — and we see the powers thus de- 
veloped used for the benefit of all. 

In short, we see that the school life is a preparation in being 
itself a foretaste of a rich world of fact and fancy in which one 
may live fully and do abundantly. 

One learns, as he proceeds, that through the whole edifice 
runs — like the proportion and measurement and balance of the 
cathedral plan — the high ideal of quality and power to be at- 
tained through these educational steps, and one learns that fine 
quality and high power may be the outcome and are not too much 
to expect. 

Within, the service begins when the children break forth in 
their expression — in the overflowing of the thought life developing 
in them. The forms of their expressions are as various as the in- 
dividuals. The spontaneity and variety of these are the crowning 
test of the School's work. They come pouring forth in every con- 



10 Francis W. Parker School 

ceivable shape — and the School holds these productions of brain 
achievement, of hand achievement, of physical skill, of literary- 
outpouring, of dramatic grasp, of musical joy and fineness, and 
above all, the expressions of self-control and self-contribution that 
are its constant inspiration — these, the School holds as its real life. 

From work which contains the voluntary outgoing of the 
mind and spirit, inspired by a motive which does not end in self 
but which is, at all times, uplifted and ennobled and deepened by 
an underlying, unconscious purpose of usefulness to a greater 
whole; from work which brings the individual into contact with 
the wealth of the ages from which he draws living interest and to 
which he gives the gratitude of an inheritor; from work which 
leads the individual to establish his own relation to the achieve- 
ments of the race by adding the power and wealth of his own hand- 
work in some service worthy of it; out of such a setting of work 
comes as a flower from the soil, rather than as a garment put on, 
the discipline that real education strives for, the discipline of the 
mind and the heart that comes alone from real power within. 

Do we mean that the Francis W. Parker School succeeds at all 
times in all these directions equally? Certainly not. But in setting 
forth its aims, we set forth the proportions and shape of its plans 
into which it is constantly and more fully completing its structure. 

It is only its serious attempt to reach for and work towards 
such ideals that brings it to the community to speak of them— the 
purpose of such speaking being but to obtain moral support and 
encouragement to help it to go forward, to bespeak correction and 
suggestion where such may arise for its still greater help and 
speeding in the right direction, and to contribute what light it may 
to others seeking the same educational goals. 

St. Paul's statement' that he died daily must have meant more 
truly that he was born daily. That side of his statement would 
apply mbst truly to our School — for with hearts and minds set to 
the future and to each dawn, every day brings new revelations of 
ways and of depths and of heights in education.